‘We’re all devastated,’ Community rallies around volunteers after flames destroy fire department


TWIN LAKES, Okla. (KFOR) – The recovery process is underway after a fire destroyed the Twin Lakes fire station. 

“We’re all devastated,” said Lori Dahlem. 

Dahlem spoke with KFOR from the hospital as her husband, Duane, is set to undergo open heart surgery Tuesday afternoon. 

The Dahlem’s are both members of the Twin Lakes Volunteer Fire Department. 

Duane is the assistant chief, and his life turned upside down on Sunday night.

Duane Dahlem

“It was fully engulfed, the whole one side, and we didn’t have any equipment to fight it, so we had to wait for help,” said Twin Lakes Fire Chief Mike Gilliam. 

Chief Gilliam says the flames sparked from an ATV that was inside the building.  They had just replaced the batteries in it Sunday afternoon. 

After it caught fire on Sunday night, Duane rushed inside trying to save at least one truck, but he was burned in the process. 

“He couldn’t get on the driver’s side of the truck because of where the fire was so all he could do was get out of the building,” said Lori. 

Amid the chaos, another blow. As the building burned, Duane suffered a heart attack. 

“I think it was brought on by all the happenings of losing the fire department,” said Lori. 

“He’s the kind of guy that every fire department, every volunteer fire department wants,” said Chief Gilliam. 

Not much is left of the department’s building now. 

“When you drive around the corner, and you look up there and the fire department’s always been there. And now it’s a big, mangled mess. It’s just hard,” he said. 

The outpouring of support has outdone any of the sadness. 

“Opening my phone and seeing messages and prayers from people, saying prayers for us, that’s what’s going to get me through,” said Lori. 

After surgery, Lori says Duane wants to go right back to doing what he loves. 

“If anybody knows my husband, they know he wants to get back to the fire station and see what he can do. That’s what he does,” she said. 

The department will rebuild. 

“We started from hand-me-downs, and we’ll start again,” said Chief Gilliam. 

Chief Gilliam says someone donated a brush truck, but all eight of their vehicles were destroyed in the fire. 

Nearby departments from Logan County are ready to jump in if there is an emergency in Twin Lakes.  

If you’d like to help, you can donate here.

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